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Seven-Run Inning Propels Cardinals Over Reds In Pivotal N.L. Central Battle

Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Skip Schumaker's first career grand slam highlighted a seven-run fourth inning as the Cardinals defeated Cincinnati, 7-3, to open a key three-game series at Great American Ball Park.

St. Louis batted around during the uprising and got a trio of RBI singles from the bats of Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus.

Not to be outdone, Chris Carpenter (13-3) pitched a steady seven innings and kept the Reds' bats in check until a two-run seventh. All told, the ace right- hander was charged with five hits with three walks and five strikeouts to extend a streak of dominance over Cincy to nine consecutive winning starts dating back to August 2006.

Mike Leake (7-4) produced the worst outing of his young career, as the Reds rookie was hammered for seven runs (six earned) and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Cincinnati entered Monday's pivotal series winners in four straight and seven of eight overall, but saw its precarious two-game lead in the NL Central halved with St. Louis' third win in four games.

Ramon Hernandez was 3-for-4 with an RBI double and homered in the ninth off Redbird reliever Kyle McClellan.

The scoring opened with a bang as St. Louis began its barrage of runs with six straight hits in the fourth. Jon Jay doubled, Pujols singled, and Holliday scored the first of seven with a base hit to right. Rasmus knocked in another with a single into center field and Yadier Molina loaded the bases with an infield hit.

Schumaker blasted the first pitch he saw to center to clear the bases and open a 6-0 lead.

Carlos Fisher took over for a beleaguered Leake after Felipe Lopez extended the inning with a two-out single and Pujols later brought him in with a base hit of his own.

Fisher went on to toss 3 1/3 scoreless innings, fanning five with two walks and two hits allowed, while things calmed on the scoreboard.

Carpenter was the other half of that equation, as the Reds failed to move a runner into scoring position until Joey Votto's two-out double in the sixth. He was stranded there, but Cincinnati finally broke through for a pair of runs in the seventh. Jay Bruce walked with one out and scored on Hernandez's double. Juan Francisco pinch-hit for Fisher with two outs and singled in Hernandez.

Trever Miller worked around a two-out walk to Scott Rolen in the eighth and Hernandez's deep fly in the ninth came too little too late.

Game Notes

Earlier Monday, the Reds acquired veteran outfielder Jim Edmonds from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for outfielder Chris Dickerson. The 40-year-old was immediately inserted into Monday's lineup and went 0-for-4 with a strikeout. Edmonds is batting .281 with eight home runs and 20 runs batted in over 74 games this season after sitting out 2009...Carpenter is 11-3 in 17 career starts versus the Reds and has won all four starts against them this year while allowing just five runs over 28 innings. His personal winning streak over the club dates back to no-decision on Aug. 9, 2006. He last lost to the Reds on June 6 of the same season. Carpenter moved to 4-0 in his last six starts overall...The Reds have lost eight of 13 to the Cards this year. They'll meet for the final time this season on Sept. 3-5...St. Louis was 6-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Pujols, Jay, Holliday, Molina and Schumaker all had two hits. Schumaker's homer was his fourth of the year...Hernandez hit his fifth of the season.